A week after her mother's death, Joana Sanz (Tenerife, 28) learned through the press that her husband, footballer Dani Alves, had been accused of allegedly raping a woman at the Sutton nightclub in Barcelona on 30 December. On January 20, 2023, when Dani Alves returned to Spain for his mother-in-law's funeral, the former Barça player was arrested and the judge sent him to jail for flight risk. A month later, on March 15, Joana Sanz announced her separation from Dani Alves, 39, through a statement written in her own hand and published on her Instagram account, with almost one million followers: "Here is a strong woman who moves on to the next stage of her life," The Tenerife model wrote then, "I love myself, respect myself and value myself very much."
Now, Sanz has given her first interview in Vanitatis, where she has spoken about the impact that the events of recent months have had on her life, and where she defends the innocence of her still husband and takes the accusation of rape as an infidelity: "I think Dani is innocent. As far as I know, there has not yet been a trial. We can not condemn him before that happens, "said the model, who tells how it was the first conversation with Alves so to learn of the accusation of rape: "In principle I did not believe anything. I was shocked. And everything seemed very serious to me. He went to prison without evidence. Let us not forget that he went to testify voluntarily. That he didn't have any notification to go do it, no one asked him. And from there they directly took him to prison."
Joana Sanz announces her separation from Dani Alves: "Here is a strong woman who moves on to the next stage of her life"
Alves voluntarily heeded investigators' request to fly to Barcelona from Mexico, where he played for Club Universidad Nacional, known as UNAM's Los Pumas, to clarify his alleged involvement in the sexual assault. When he arrived in Barcelona, the Mossos arrested him and transferred him to the police station to take his statement. Later, he was taken to the City of Justice to appear before the judge. After 45 minutes of a statement in which he "incurred numerous contradictions", both the private prosecution – which exercises the victim – and the Prosecutor's Office requested his entry into provisional detention without bail. Alves denied having had non-consensual sex with the girl, a story that did not agree with the evidence (footprints, biological remains) that were analyzed by the Mossos and that contradicted what he had said before: that he did not know her at all. The young woman's statement, on the other hand, was coherent and solid, according to judicial sources.
The model repeats on several occasions that she believes in her husband's innocence, but affirms that her marriage has suffered because of the, for her, infidelity: "I believe in his innocence and I hope I am not wrong. Knowing him, I can say that Dani is not a bad person. That he has screwed up with our marriage, to the bottom, yes. But I don't think he would have ever done that knowing he could lose everything. It's too serious."
On May 9, the Barcelona judge in charge of the case again rejected the request of the former footballer, who had requested his release for the second time. The order recalled that Alves "has already made several statements and in each of them he has given a different version of the facts, since he did not know the victim, until the last one, which recognizes that there was sex between the two, pointing out that it was consensual." On the different versions of Alves throughout the judicial process, Joana Sanz affirms that she believes he did it for her: "I think he did it for me, for not giving me another stick. When he entered prison, my mother had died a week ago and I guess she didn't want to make me suffer anymore. I don't think I wanted to tell it to avoid causing myself more pain at the worst time of my life."
Model Joana Sanz at a Hannibal Laguna show in 2018. Peter Sabok (NurPhoto/Getty Images)
The journalist then asks the model why she announces her divorce with Alves if she considers that she is innocent. Sanz maintains her husband's innocence, but says she cannot forgive him for an infidelity: "I consider divorce because I discover that he has been unfaithful, but, despite everything that has been said, we have not yet started the procedures. We are still married. At the moment it is only in words. Dani and I have a pending conversation because he has broken some values that I consider to be those that maintain a marriage: respect and trust. But, despite all this, I will still be there because Dani is my family." Sanz also acknowledges that, before her husband entered prison, they, as a couple, were "superfine" and "never" argued. She believes that her husband "made a mistake" and that is why they have "lost everything" they had.
In spite of everything, they keep in touch and Joana Sanz has gone to see him in prison on several occasions, they also talk on the phone almost daily: "I'm going to see him in prison. There is no bad vibes. We have been together eight years and I am not left alone with this, which has broken our relationship as a couple. I also keep many other good things that we have lived and shared together, "says the model. Sanz explains that she goes to visit him because she knows that Alves is at his worst and, as a husband, he supported her in her worst moments: "We are always left with the resentment and the evil they do to us, but just because they do something bad to us does not mean that we have to return it with something bad. He is now encased between four cement walls. And that mentally has to be tremendous." Even so, Sanz affirms that they have not yet been able to talk "about the serious things" that affect them: "I have not yet been able to insult him."
The Tenerife woman affirms that during his first month in prison, Alves "simply cried" but that "now, with the passage of time, he is getting stronger." In her case, she is "sick, very sad and scared" and has put herself in the hands of a mental health professional: "I am a victim too. I am having to deal with something that I have found, without eating it, or drinking it, because I am neither a complainant nor denounced, "says the model. Despite considering him innocent, he does not see a sentimental reconciliation between them possible. The couple married in 2017 in Ibiza and have no children in common; Alves is two, ages 15 and 16, from his marriage to his first wife, Dinora Santana.
The model has left Barcelona for a while and has settled in Madrid: "Dani has begged me not to leave, but I have left because I need to work. I need to separate things and get my life back," she says. He thought about moving away from Spain and going to Paris, but Dani Alves did not allow it, since he did not offer him the necessary financial help to carry out his plan: "I wanted to go to Paris but at the price that the flats are there, I was not going to be able to afford it. I didn't know what to do, I needed to leave anyway. And just for mental health I asked him for help to be able to leave Spain. But Dani told me no," says the model. On Alves' reasons, Sanz has two theories: "I have two versions. First the one he told me, which is that now I could not financially. And the other, that he didn't want me to leave home. I didn't want him to walk away so he wouldn't lose that contact with me."
While weathering the storm, Sanz asks for an impossible, to be away from the media spotlight: "I would like to be anonymous, but now I'm screwed."